Ask any Maltese local what food you simply must try during a visit to Malta, and their first answer is bound to be ‘pastizzi’.
So what exactly are pastizzi? Well, they’re traditional savoury pastries that can be found only in Malta (and a small part of Australia and Canada, thanks to Maltese immigrants who took the recipe with them), these delights are filled either with ricotta cheese or mushy peas, and folded inside diamond-shaped super-flaky rich filo-type pastry, or inside a round delicate puff pastry version.
Served hot – preferably hot enough so as to temporarily make you lose the feeling in your mouth – the humble pastizzi can be purchased for a mere 25-30 cents from bars, cafes and street vendors. These ‘pastizzerias’ are usually run by families that have baked them on metal trays in giant ovens for generations.
Eaten by the locals at literally any time of day and for any occasion, you’ll never be hard-pushed to find a source for these quintessentially Maltese morsels, wherever you are on the island.
That said, there’s one famous landmark to head to if you are looking for the full authentic pastizzi experience.
The widely acknowledged gold standard of pastizzi lies in an unassuming bar just outside Mdina. Crystal Palace, or is-Serkin as it is commonly referred to by locals, is a typical Maltese haunt serving typical Maltese fare, barely noticeable from the outside as having anything particularly unusual to offer compared to any other.
But in terms of pastizzi, it does have one significant superpower: they make the pastizzi here, as opposed to cooking them from frozen in bulk like other vendors on the island. The appeal of a freshly-made delicately crispy pastizzi, baking hot and straight from the oven makes this place the go-to for pastizzi perfection.
If you can’t make it to Mdina, however, fear not – there are plenty of other locations to sample this miniature Maltese marvel. The most popular of these remains ‘Maxim’s’ in Gzira – a pastizzi shop as opposed to a bar, that serves a huge quantity of pastizzi over the counter.
It’s worth noting that in Maltese, ‘pastizzi’ is actually the plural of ‘pastizz’. It’s doubtful however that you’ll need to use the singular very often… and you’ll always want to eat at least two!
If you’re in the mood for dessert, check out our article on Why the Maltese are Mad over Mqaret!